“Two Thousand Seven”….”The Number Anotha‘ Summa“….(Top Albums Of 2007 Year To Date)
1. “The Weatherman”-Evidence….No matter what kind of mood I’m in, I can always throw this in the deck or the headphones and get an enjoyable listen everytime. Every few weeks or so it seems as if I crown a new “favorite” from this album. First it was “All Said & Done” (damn, DJ Khalil of Self Scientific has banged out some dope sh*t over the last couple years), then it was “Chase The Clouds Away” (Alchemist wins again!) now I’m just getting over “Mr. Slow Flow” and I can feel myself swaying toward “Let Yourself Go” (another Alchemist beast that features Phontiggalo). Now, I’ve read mixed reviews of “The Weatherman” but I sincerely feel that this has been the most cohesive album of 2007 thus far…no question. Admittedly, I’ve never owned a Dilated Peoples album and before “The Weatherman” I didn’t even know that EV was a member of Dilated Peoples, maybe that is why I like this album soo damn much.
2. “First Toke”-Uncut Raw…..Yep, you guessed it! I’ve been on this album’s jock since I stumbled upon it over at Arnie.Bossplayer (thanks for finally adding me to your link list….finally!) earlier in May. While there have been a few naysayers (“sounds too much like Doom”‘, it needs to be mixed properly’, “it’s too lo-fi“) which is too be expected, I love this album/whatever you wanna’ call it…just because of it’s rawness! Reppin‘ Green Llama, MC Self Destruct (who sounds nothing like Doom!) and producer Fluent give you an album that is not only fresh, but unpredictable as well. “Imwityou” still remains my favorite from “First Toke”, but “727 ” is comin‘ on strong. I really feel that “First Toke” at 26 tracks deep is totally void of a “throwaway” tracks and is heavy on quality and potential. Someone please sign these fellas!!!!
3. “Bayani“-Blue Scholars….Jesus, where did these cats come from? I mean I DL’ed Common Market’s album on HHB around Christmas of last year and I kinda’ wondered who did the beats on that joint because I thought whomever it was….was pretty damn original. “Bayani” blew me away from the opening moments of “Second Chapter” and has had me in a daze ever since. I can see this album floating around the top of my list for the rest of the year as well. Hell, I don’t even know if this is actually released yet (much like half the album’s on this list). “Bayani” is steadily becoming the blogger’s choice as well as they deservingly should be. Decent rhymes and amazing beats by Sabzi. I will say this, Sabzi loves his maracas, as they seem to find their creative place on half of the tracks on the album. “Loyalty” is a beast, and It’s quite evident that it’s the best track on the album as well.
4. “The World Is Ours”-Ill Poetic….Between me & you, if I didn’t just begin listening to this album late last week…no doubt, it may have been in my top 3. With each listen, Ill Poetic’s voice (my biggest peeve with “The World Is Ours”) becomes that much more bearable (not that it’s unbearabable, I’ve just never been a big fan of Peter Gunz and the resemblence is evident) and the beats sound even crispier and well put together. Ill Poetic has crafted a masterpiece…though far from a classic, “The World Is Yours” is a big surprise and an album that will be in my headphones for much of the summer. Don’t sleep!
Kweli….Never been a big Kweli fan….nope…never cared much for Mos Def’s work either. “Ear Drum” has completely changed my opinion on Kweli. Before “Ear Drum” I’d written Kweli off as too preachy and monotonous. “Ear Drum” is soo much better than “Quality”…hell, I like this waaay better than both the “Black Star” joint and “Reflection Eternal”. Talib & Madlib’s free download “Liberation” almost made my Top 10, but for some reason I thought that was released in 2006. Nevertheless, it usually comes down to “would I rather listen to “Ear Drum” or “Desire”?, with Kweli prevailling much of the time. I still have to give this a few more listens, but I’ve enjoyed it enough in the last few week to consider it in my top 5. Damn, this album doesn’t even drop till’ August!
6. “Don’t Quit Your Day Job”-Consequence…I’ll admit it, upon first glance at the cover art for Cons To Tha Quence’s “Don’t Quit Your…” I didn’t now what to think. Would this be yet another pre-album/mixtape joint? Or, would this be a collection of Cons’ greatest hits over the years that he’s compiled with Ye’, ATCQ, etc.? Well, yes and no….”The Good, The Bad, The Ugly” has been around for 3 years or so but the majority of “Don’t Quit…” is new, fresh material. Finally, Quence has been given the green light and he does anything but fail on his solo debut. Right now, “Don’t Forget Em’” is getting alot of spins and alot of cats are really feelin‘ his video for the single as well (sh*t, it makes me dizzy and claustrophobic). Although the Talib & Kanye influences are prevalent, Quence is pretty nice with his. Cuts like “Pretty Little Sexy Mama” & the posse cut “Disperse” (which flips CRU’s “Just Another Case”) are perfect for the summer even though this album dropped in the first quarter of the year.
7. “A Breath Of Fresh Air”-Raks One AKA Emilio Rojas….A perfect example of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, even though Raks looks like he’s in the middle stages of puberty…don’t be fooled. Hell, this album may have been released in the latter part of 2006 (actually I just googled it and it was…oh well, I’ve just started listening to it so be it!), I just recently stumbled across it at HHB (Thanks Fellas!) just looking for some new stuff. Hailing from Rochester, NY Raks is a beast on the mic. Now I’m not big on lyrics (as crazy as that may sound) but Raks delivers a deeply personal album that keeps me eager for the next 16 everytime I take in “A Breath Of…”. The beats are super, with Illmind, Muneshine and M Phazes all supplying Raks with an abundance of bangers. This album is definitely for folks who also may enjoy the likes of Kenn Starr, Oddisee and Kev Brown.
ends” like Masta Ace, Ed O.G., O.C., Kool G Rap. Of course, the single of the year to date is more than likely “Nostalgia” (Masta Ace) but there is much more to “Port Authority” besides the “dare I crown it” soon to be CLASSIC single. “Marquee” features a rejuvenated O.C. killing it over another one of Marco’s creepers and “Speak Softly” featuring JoJo Pelligrino has been in my Top 25 all year. It wouldn’t have hurt “Port Authority” to drop some dead weight though, “Low Budget” (which features the Low Budget clique that I’m particularly fond of, just not this time fellas) and the “how dare you try to remake a classic” “Relax” featuring J. Davey…oh well, the J. Davey cut was a bonus anyway!
9. “Desire”-Pharoahe Monch….while “Desire” is technically an “advance” I highly doubt that we will witness any changes on the retail version. Now, I’ve heard over half the songs on “Desire” on the Clinton Sparks assisted mixtape with P. Monch entitled “The Awakening” , so my anticipation has decreased over the last few weeks due to “The Awakening” being in heavy rotation for the first part of the year (if that makes any sense). “Desire” falls in at the 9 slot only because unfortunately “Ear Drum” was leaked a week after “Desire” and I haven’t been paying to much attention to it as of late. What was billed as the possible “album of the year” now seems to be just an above average effort from Pharoahe that is most definitely a big improvement over “Internal Affairs”. “Desire” which is produced by the Alchemist is still my favorite track, with the Black Milk produced “Push” hot on it’s heels. Still, there are some suspect cuts on “Desire” (specifically, “Body Baby”) that may hinder the amount of plays I give it over the span of 2007.
10. “The Beat Tape”-D.J. Babu…OK, I admitted that I jumped the gun by crowning Babu’s “The Beat Tape” as the next big thing or the equivalent of J Dilla’s “Donuts”. Even so, “The Beat Tape” was a pleasant surprise for me and I still pull it out at least once a week for my instrumental “fix” when I just get tired of hearing MC’s spew the same ol, same ol. Number one, with the exception of “Donuts” (and maybe Madlib’s “The Beat Konducta“) I’m not very big on “instrumental” albums as they tend to bore my A.D.D. ass very quickly. After my initial listen to “The Beat Tape” I realized that this would not be the case. Much like Evidence’s “The Weatherman” I never really listened to any of Babu’s work, I’ve always been a big East Coast fan. The samples are placed nicely into Babu’s mix and the songs are short enough to the point where they don’t become overdone. I truly believe that “The Beat Tape” will find it’s place in my top 10 come year’s end.
Honorable Mention’s: “Return Of The Mac”-The Alchemist errr…Prodigy,…. “Popular Demand”-Black Milk, “The Brick:Bodega Chronicles”-Joell Ortiz,….. “The City Never Sleeps”-Big City, ……”Hip Hop Lives”-Krs One & Marley Marl (Get Well Marley!!), …..”Entry Level Elements”-Canto I,…”Pure”-Buff1
Most Disappointing Album
“Red Gone Wild”-Redman….What happened Red? I mean, I expressed my disappointment after a few good listens back when this blog started exactly 3 months ago. Do you know how many times I’ve tried to give “Red Gone Wild” a go? Ehhh, two…maybe three tries, I just can’t do it though! I just can’t make it through even one track. Hell, I even thought the Pete Rock produced “Gimmie One” would bring “Red Gone Wild” a little not credibility…not happenin‘ folks. It’s almost too painful to listen to one of my all-time favorite emcees just put together such a lackadaisical, half-hearted, uninspired effort. To make things worse, this album was pushed back by the Def Jam suits..what maybe five or six times? At least! Who knows maybe Red will get dropped from Def Jam, pop up outta’ the blue on Koch Records and hit us over the head with a banger by the end of the year and make me eat my words. I can only hope that it would come to fruition as I’m pullin‘ for you Red! Don’t leave us hanging!
Honorable Mentions: “The Return Of The Magnificent”-DJ Jazzy Jeff (I really want to like this album, I really do!)….”Carte Blanche”-Phat Kat (a big dropoff in quality from his debut)
Comeback Producer Of The Mid Year
The Alchemist…without question, The ALC and his signature “al….aaa…al..chemist” drop have been popping up on some of the year’s biggest bangers. Whether it was stealing the show on Prodigy’s “Return Of The Mac” mixtape/album or blessing Evidence with a handful of goodies on “The Weatherman”, Alchemist proved that he still has a good bit of hits left in the tank. Let’s not forget his addition to P. Monch’s “Desire” on the cut of the same name….Crazy! With six months to go, the Alchemist is apt to continue bringing the heat well into the winter.
Most Comedic/”Damn How Can You Not Like This Dude?” Award
“Waitin’ To Inhale”-Devin Tha Dude…I remember killing time earlier this year over on the OkayPlayer.com boards and believe it or not everyone and their momma was jumping the gun to proclaim “Waitin To Inhale” as a classic in the making. Uh,Uh….sorry, classic it’s not…enjoyable….hilarious….original…undoubtedly so. Devin has always been one of the most enjoyable, likeable, story tellin’ emcees since his days as a founding member of the Odd Squad. Let it be to the biased ears of this “East Coaster” to not really care that much for the music of Down South artists (there are the exceptions…Geto Boys, Kast’, Goodie Mob, etc.), but I’ve always enjoyed Devin. Hearing Devin disguise his voice as a “redneck” on the “Boom” skits for “Waitin…” is almost enough laughs for the price of admission. Of course, the typical quality you can expect from Devin is there as well…just check out “She Useta’ Be”. Damn, I need to give this another listen this weekend!
Biggest Example of “Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover”
Free Agent-Skip Whitman….ooooooh! Just look at Skip’s dreamy green eyes, and oh, what about that beutiful ocean front setting peeping over Skip’s shoulder. “Free Agent” how corny is that right? In what portrays more of a “high school senior photo” than an underground Hip Hop album cover, Skip Whitman comes correct on his debut “Free Agent”. Just before doing some work around the house last weekend, I figured I’d jump on over to HHB to peep some new music to get me motivated. Upon seeing “Free Agent” I thought to myself “are your SERIOUS“, but the disclaimer also read “don’t sleep on this, disregard the cover art”….or something like that. Insert sound of the needle being jerked off the record….”Free Agent” was hella’ surprising! Especially, if your like me and finished up High School around 94′-96′, Skip comes from our era and does a fine job of “takin it back” so to speak…clearly evident on tracks like the “Intro” & “Brookline”. Also, with guest appearances from Statik Selektah, Jaysaun (Special Teamz) & Skyzoo, Skip show & proves enough with his “off beat” flow to outshine both of the aforementioned emcess on their featured tracks. As wack as the album cover is…it’s equivalent to the quality that you’ll recieve via “Free Agent”. Be sure to check this one out over at HipHopBootleggers.